NHL Teams

History Of Teams In The NHL And Their Expansion By Year

By Usha Shrestha / 5 May 2023 04:25 AM

Seth Jarvis from Carolina Hurricanes during the Stanley Cup playoff with New Jersey Devils
Source : instagram

The History of teams in the NHL dates back to 26 November 1917. It had six franchises including four teams from Canada.

The National Hockey League was formed in 1917 by four Canadian teams, which shortly replaced the National Hockey Association. Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, and Quebec Bulldogs were the clubs.

Later the Canadiens were joined by the Boston Bruins. Near the 1940s, the era of Original Six began, and in 1967 the league doubled to twelve with six more clubs in the franchise.

The league membership has risen to 32 with the addition of teams after various periods of enlargement and reorganization. Also, the league is divided into two conferences and four divisions. Each conference has two divisions, and each division has eight clubs.

Original NHL Teams With Joining Date

Montreal Canadiens1909
Toronto Maple Leafs1919
Boston Bruins1924
Chicago Blackhawks1926
Detroit Red Wings1926
New York Rangers1926

Six Original Teams in the NHL

6 original NHL teams 1917 are Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, and New York Rangers.

The Canadiens formed in 1909 and joined the leagues in 1917, and another one to join at the same time was The Maple Leafs. That is the year the National Hockey League was founded. Thus, these two are the charter members of the league.

Later in the 1920s, the remaining four, the Bruins, the Red Wings, Blackhawks, and the Rangers, joined the franchise. Let's find out more details about the initial six hockey clubs of the league.

Montreal Canadiens - 1909

Montreal Canadiens, a member of the Atlantic Division, is the oldest club in the league. It was formed in 1909 by J. Ambrose O'Brien, and the club joined the league at the time of its formation.

The Canadiens celebrates their first goal in the first shift of NHL season
Source : instagram

The Canadiens is the longest-operating professional sports club in hockey. Moreover, it is a club with the highest Stanley Cup championship. It has won 24 times since 1926.

Prior to that, the silver cup was an inter-league championship. Likewise, the Canadiens have won 24 division championships and have 64 players in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Martin St. Louis is the head coach, while Nick Suzuki is the captain. Both were recruited for the position in 2022.

Toronto Maple Leafs - 1919

Toronto Maple Leafs, like the Canadiens, joined the league in 1919. It is the club with the second-highest Stanley Cup championships.

They have won 13 cups, including their back-to-back victory in 2020 and 2021. Regarding the name, the Leafs were first named Arenas and then St. Patricks. In 1927, the club adopted its current name.

One of the teams of the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference, the club has been coached by Sheldon Keefe since the 2021-22 season, and John Tavares has been the captain since 2019.

Boston Bruins - 1924

The Boston Bruins was founded in 1924, and the same year, the club joined in NHL. To date, it has won six Stanley Cup championships, along with 25 division championships and 51 athletes in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The third oldest and most active club has Jim Montgomery as its head mentor. Patrice Bergeron has been the captain since 2021.

Chicago Blackhawks - 1926

Two years after the Bruins, a new sports club joined the world of hockey and joined the franchise. Earlier, Chicago Blackhawks used to introduce themselves with the two words except for Chicago.

The Blackhawks players cheering the roster from the bench
Source : instagram

The Hawks holds six Stanley Cup trophies alongside 16 division championship and 39 athletes in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Hawks is a member of the Central division under the Western Conference. Kyle Davidson is the general manager, while Luke Richardson is the head mentor. Centre player Jonathan Bryan Toews is the captain.

Detroit Red Wings - 1926

The fifth team from the oldest National Hockey League franchise is the Detroit Red Wings. It was formed in 1926 as the Detroit Cougars. It became the Detroit Falcons in 1930 and was renamed with its current title in 1932.

The Wings is the top club with the most Stanley Cups based in the United States. It has won 11 silver cups (third highest in the league) with 19 division championships and 63 players in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Ilitch Holding Company owns the club, with Steve Yzerman as the general manager. Dylan Larkin is the captain, while Derek Lalonde was hired as the head coach in June 2022.

New York Rangers - 1926

New York Rangers is the first team from the United States to win the Stanley Cup Championship. The team won the silver cup the subsequent season, it joined the league.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Artemi Panarin celebrating after the victory of New York Rangers
Source : instagram

To date, it has four Stanley and 49 players in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Defenseman Jacob Ryan Trouba is the team captain and Gerard Gallant is the head mentor.

NHL Expansion Teams By Year

NHL 1967 expansion teams are The California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and St. Louis Blues.

The clubs joined the league and brought it from 6 to 12. The enlargement process began in 1965. Then-president Clarence Campbell announced expanding of the alliance with a second six-team division.

Four of the six remain active in the league under their original names. North Stars changed to Dallas Stars in 1993, and The California Seals was renamed San Francisco_Oakland and later as San Jose Sharks.


The league expanded to 12 teams by adding the St. Louis Blues, California Seals, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Los Angeles Kings.


The year two teams joined the National Hockey League. They are:

  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Vancouver Canucks

The Sabres celebrating their victory on April 14 night
Source : instagram

Both groups paid $6 million as an expansion fee. Canucks had won the Stanley Cup two years before the league's founding.


The following two clubs joined the league in 1972 and 1973. With that, the total number of clubs reached 16.

  • Atlanta Flames
  • New York Islanders


Two more teams came forward after 1974. They made the league of 18 teams from 16. They are:

  • Washington Capitals;
  • Kansas City Scouts

Scouts changed their name twice. Once, in 1976, as Colorado Rockies and later in 1982 as New Jersey Devils.


In 1978, the franchise reduced in number. California Golden Seals ( Barons) merged with the North Stars, bringing the franchise from 18 to 17.

All athlete and mentor for year 2022-2023 from the Dallas
Source : instagram

The North Stars later in 1993, was renamed as Dallas Stars.


In 1979, the franchise rose from 17 to 21 after adding four clubs from World Hockey Association. They were:

  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Hartford Whalers
  • Quebec Nordiques
  • Winnipeg Jets

This year, the clubs paid $7.5 million, which is a million and a half more than fees from previous years. In 1995, the Nordiques were renamed Colorado Avalanche, the current holding team of the Stanley Cup.

The subsequent year, the Jets changed their name to Phoenix Coyotes, which now has become Arizona Coyotes. The Whalers also adopted Carolina Hurricanes as their new moniker in 1997.


San Jose Sharks joined the alliance in 1991, making 22 clubs. The club paid $45 million($89.5 million today) to be a member.


Two crew joined the alliance the following year. They are:

  • Ottawa Senators
  • Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning has won the silver cup three times in the 2000s. Once in 2004 and later back-to-back in 2020 and 2021.


In 1993, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim joined the league. The club was named after The Mighty Ducks movies.

In 2005, its name was shortened to Anaheim Ducks.


Nashville Predators brought the number of teams to 27 in 1998. The same year the Toronto Maple Leafs switched the conference to the Eastern and Northeast Division.


Defenseman Dylan DeMelo of the Jets
Source : instagram

League's 28th club is Atalanta Thrashers paying expansion fee of $80 million. It changed its name to Winnipeg Jets in 2011.


Two teams joined the national hockey league in 2000. The crew making the number reached 30 are:

  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Minnesota Wild


The 31st team to join the franchise is Vegas Golden Knights.

The Knights joined on June 22, 2016, as per the announcement of Commissioner Gary Bettman.

Vegas Golden played the 101st season of the operation of the National Hockey League. The season started in October 2017 and ended in April 2018.


31 turned into 32 in 2021 after the board announced a new group to the franchise in 2018.

Seattle Kraken was granted the expansion by the franchise on December 4, 2018, as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference.

The Krakens are competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 2023
Source : instagram

Arizona Coyotes shifted from the Pacific to the Central division to balance eight groups in each division.

Seattle debuted in the 2021-2022 season of the league.

NHL Teams List Alphabetical Order

NHL Teams List has 32 groups from Canada and the United States. Seattle Kraken is the last hockey team to join the league in 2021.

The same year, Seattle competed in their first regular season match against Vegas Golden Knights in October. They couldn't celebrate the victory in the first match yet; two days later, they won against Nashville Predators 4-3.

Teams that are competing in the first round for the silver cup
Source : instagram

The NHL teams in alphabetical order are:

  1. Anaheim Ducks
  2. Arizona Coyotes
  3. Boston Bruins
  4. Buffalo Sabres
  5. Calgary Flames
  6. Carolina Hurricanes
  7. Chicago Blackhawks
  8. Colorado Avalanche
  9. Columbus Blue Jackets
  10. Dallas Stars
  11. Detroit Red Wings
  12. Edmonton Oilers
  13. Florida Panthers
  14. Los Angeles Kings
  15. Minnesota Wild
  16. Montreal Canadiens
  17. Nashville Predators
  18. New Jersey Devils
  19. New York Islanders
  20. New York Rangers
  21. Ottawa Senators
  22. Philadelphia Flyers
  23. Pittsburgh Penguins
  24. San Jose Sharks
  25. Seattle Kraken
  26. St. Louis Blues
  27. Tampa Bay Lightning
  28. Toronto Maple Leafs
  29. Vancouver Canucks
  30. Vegas Golden Knights
  31. Washington Capitals
  32. Winnipeg Jets

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